THROWBACK MUSIC REVIEW: ‘By Any Means 2’ – ‘Kevin Gates’

Looking back on the second mixtape by rapper Kevin Gates.

| October 3, 2017

Album art courtesy of Atlantic Records/Bread Winners Association.

Although a battery charge from a Florida concert in 2015 and recent gun charges, which subsequently led to a 30 month prison sentence, one of which he is still serving, Kevin Gates still delivers his aggressive, came-from-the-bottom style raps and pain-fueled soulful vocals that put him in the spotlight in his most recent release, “By Any Means 2.” The Baton Rouge MC opens up with a track titled “No Love”  as a reminder to his doubters and even outsiders believing prison life is deteriorating Gates, that he remains the same and is stronger than ever. In the opening hook he raps “What a hell of a feelin’ I’m living large/I’m a hell of a ni**a, I’m still in charge.” In the next line he raps “I can get you from here or behind the bars.” He proclaims, although his enemies are in the outside world, he is still able to reach through the bars or any obstacle life has thrown at him.

One of the more vulnerable tracks on the album is “Came Up.” Gates raps about the relationships with people he grew up with and how he started his career with no co sign from any major label or artist. In the first verse Gates raps “ When the rap game turned their back on me, tried to blackball me, no cosigns/ Many major artists said, ‘Fuck that,’ kept rollin.” Currently Gates is signed to Atlantic Records, Artist Partners and also his own record label, Bread Winners Association. Gates also calls out the well-known, exuberant, hip hop mogul DJ Khaled in “Came Up” as well. The two seemed to have a run-in back in the day where Gates was building up a name for himself. Gates spit “Gave Khaled one of my CD’s/ He was acting like he ain’t know me.” Khaled hasn’t yet responded himself but this may hint at an underlying ongoing beef between the two artists.

One thing Kevin Gates possesses that makes him a one of a kind artist is his gift of melody. His rapping ability is undeniable, but his melodic hooks and background vocals and croaking style of delivery is all his own and is what lures listeners in and is also necessary for a catchy hook. In the song “Had To,” Gates shows his vocal range by singing about too many snakes in his circle of people or in his “grass” and that he needs to start mowing the lawn and cutting people off in a figurative and literal sense. Gates even sings on the deepest and most thought provoking song on the mixtape, “What If.” Gates proposes the idea that what if God was one of us; an average person, a thug, someone looking for love or someone just trying to make it out. Kendrick Lamar proposed a very similar in concept in his song “How Much A Dolla Cost” from his album “To Pimp A Butterfly” back in 2016. In this song Lamar makes God a homeless man and challenges that perspective.

Gates also recruits label mate PnB Rock for the standout track “Beautiful Scars.” PnB Rock is a singer/rapper that blew up in 2016 with his single “Selfish” and this year by featuring on the summer smash hit “Everyday We Lit” with YFM Lucci. Gates and PnB rock detail on how the trials and tribulations from the past come and haunt them today. In Gates’ music he portrays that he often puts his heart on his sleeve and makes himself vulnerable, which can unfortunately end up in a lot of hurt which he expresses in this song. Gates said in one line “Eskimo city, no feelings/ imma igloo,” which infers bad dealings in the past can have negative consequences from how you move in the future.

The entirety of the album seems to be based around a common theme: Never forget where you came from. Gates proves time and time again on the album how far he has come and how he has never let up still. Every song is a story and has its own lesson included in it, and Gates brings you along for the ride in several different artistic mediums. Even though Gates is still serving his prison sentence, he makes sure no one forgets of his talent in rawness in the By Any Means sequal. Kevin Gates reminds us all that even though he’s not in the public eye it is still his world.

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Music

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